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10 Minutes with the Music Expert Brazilian Ambassador

To say that Rubem Antonio Corrêa Barbosa is a music aficionado is an understatement: Brazil’s ambassador to Indonesia has a collection of 300 original vinyls, 1500 CDs and a drum set in his personal music room at home. Along with his wife, Lenise, Barbosa gave Indonesia Design a tour of the collection of music and Brazilian art in the residence, which has green panoramic views of the Senayan golf course. Here’s what we learned, along with more on some of the pieces from the couple’s collection.

Photos by Bagus Tri Laksono

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What’s on the agenda for a design trip to Brazil?

Ouro Preto, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paolo, and Brasilia top the couple’s list. Lenise picks include the collection of semi-precious stones, including an imperial topaz that can only be found in Ouro Preto, as well as finding some chita, a Brazilian patterned cotton fabric that comes in vibrant colours. The ambassador suggests a visit the semi-annual Sao Paolo Fashion Week, which is also the fifth largest fashion week, after New York, Paris, London, and Milan. For architecture lovers, the couple recommends the capital city of Brasilia for its Portuguese colonial buildings, and Ouro Preto for its baroque style buildings.

What do we need to know about the great Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer?

Niemeyer, the mastermind behind contemporary Brazilian architecture, died at 105 in 2012. Emerging from Neimeyer’s imposing shadow, architects such as Isay Weinfeld, Mario Biselli and Angelo Bucci now have a chance to flourish, Barbosa said.“Brazil’s architectural style is definitely in a transition period after Niemeyer’s death,” the ambassador says. “Put it this way: You couldn’t move a stone in Brasilia without getting his prior permission when he was alive and initiated the development of the Brasilia. He was sort of a god in terms of architecture in Brazil and he worked until he died.”

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How about contemporary Brazilian music?

“I personally like melodious music, for example. I love the blues, but also love the popular music that stems from bossanova,” Barbosa says, “but I find it difficult to connect with regional music from Brazil today.” The ambassador said That hip hop, rap, and funk have been getting more of the spotlight for the first time, as the population of Afro-Brazilians has grown since the emergence of Samba.

Tell us about your passion for music.

“There was an evolution,” Barbosa says. “Rock came first. Jazz came in the mid-1980s and then came bossanova into my life.” He also talks with obvious enthusiasm about Brazilian talents making bows at the Java Jazz fFestival in Jakarta, such as the jazz/funk maestro Sergio Mendes, samba and bossanova singer Astrud Gilberto and the guitarist Paulinho Garcia, who opened for Chick Corea.

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Tell us about your record choices for a desert island?

“Stone Flower”, Antônio Carlos Jobim.
“It’s very Brazilian and I think I have to have something from my country. So it’s right from the heart,” the ambassador says. “Jobim is not Brazilian anymore, he’s international.” In 1979, Jobim released “Sinatra–Jobim Sessions”, a double LP compilation with a cover of “The Girl from Ipanema” sung by Sinatra with Jobin on piano.

“1969”, Led Zeppelin. 
“Ah, that’s very much a teenager thing. I was born in 1952 and this was released in 1969. I was 17 and it was a mania. Bear in mind, Led Zeppelin never made it to Brazil. The only contact you could have with the band was through the record. They’restill very well respected in Brazil. The younger generation and younger bands, when they try to play [Zeppelin] they’re like ‘These guys are great’.”

“12×5”, Rolling Stones. 
“I also have a passion for the blues. This was their second record, completely recorded in Chicago. So it’s Chicago Blues, played by Englishmen. It has a lot of meaning for me, because of the band, which I cherish very much, and because of the music, which is very much related to the United States. From a very early age, say 13, I decided to try to become a diplomat. I always thought that in rock music, [Rolling Stone drummer] Charlie Watts was the best diplomat they ever had. He is still ranked No. 11 as the best-dressed man in England today. When the Rolling Stones arrived at Chess Records to record this album, Muddy Waters was coming out and picked up their amplifiers to help them get into the studio. Mick Jagger says, ‘Look, sir. We named out band after one of your songs.’ It’s very moving.”

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